President Barack Obama announced new standards Wednesday that will cut mercury emissions from oil and coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions – like arsenic, acid gas, and cyanide – from power plants, which are the largest sources of this pollution in the United States.
This crucial step forward will bring enormous public health benefits. By substantially reducing emissions of toxic pollutants that lead to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and other serious health issues, these standards will benefit millions of people across the country, but especially children, older Americans, and other vulnerable populations. Cumulatively, the total health and economic benefits to society could reach $90 billion each year.
When fully implemented, these new standards will, on an annual basis, help prevent:
- Up to 11,000 premature deaths;
- 2,800 cases of chronic bronchitis;
- 4,700 heart attacks;
- 130,000 asthma attacks;
- 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and
- 540,000 days when people miss work or school.
At the end of the day, President Obama and Democrats believe that Americans have waited long enough for these common-sense standards and that it is now time to do what is right for the country.